(as featured in Szaferman Lakind Quarterly Newsletter, Spring 2017 Edition)
An article by
Jeffrey K. Epstein, Esq., Partner
Effective February 1, 2017, a new child support statute was enacted which provides for the termination of child support for children who have reached the age of 19, unless there is another date (not beyond the date the child turns 23) specified in a Court Order. From a practical standpoint, this creates different burdens and obligations for parents paying and receiving child support from those which existed under the prior law. Also as a result of the new statute, the approach to the termination of child support for cases in which child support is collected by the County Probation Department is now different from the approach in cases in which child support is paid directly from one parent to another.
If child support is being collected by the Probation Department the child support will terminate when a child becomes 19 years of age. In order for the Probation Department to continue to collect child support for that child beyond the age of 19 the party receiving child support must submit to the court either a Court Order or Judgment establishing an alternative child support termination date or a written request seeking the continuation of child support beyond the age of 19. A Judgment of Divorce with accompanying Matrimonial Settlement Agreement will generally be insufficient cause for the Probation Department to collect child support beyond the age of 19 in the absence of a subsequent Court Order or a written request seeking the continuation of child support.
For those cases where child support is paid directly from one party to the other (i.e. not through the Probation Department), child support will continue until the child is emancipated in accordance with the terms of the Matrimonial Settlement Agreement. The new law, however, does not permit child support for a child beyond the age of 23. If support for a child is sought beyond the age of 23 for extenuating circumstances such as a mental or physical disability, a Court Order must be obtained for another form of financial maintenance for such child. Probation will not collect child support for any child beyond the age of 23, as in a sense, child support no longer exists for any child beyond the age of 23.
The intent of the new law was to reduce the number of applications filed for the termination of child support based on a child’s emancipation. The automatic termination of child support at the age of 19 would eliminate the need for such applications. The new law, however, could create additional litigation by compelling a parent to petition the court in order to continue child support beyond the age of 19, or for financial maintenance for a child under extenuating circumstances beyond the age of 23.
As with many new statutes, there are initial difficulties in application. For example, even though the Probation Department will automatically terminate child support for a child who turns 19, if there are younger children also receiving child support from the same Order and the Order does not specifically allocate the child support among the children, the original child support amount will continue until there is a subsequent Court Order changing it. For example, if child support is established at $75 per week for two children and one of the children reaches the age of 19 and is, therefore, no longer under the purview of the local Probation Department, the Probation Department will continue to collect the $75 per week for the younger child. In such a case, modification of the existing child support Order requires that a party file an application with the Court requesting that the child support be adjusted to an amount appropriate for one child as opposed to two.
Areas of Focus:
- Child Custody
- Child Support
- Domestic Violence
- Family Law Appeals
- Parenting Time
- Prenuptial Agreements
- Separation Agreements